What you need to know..
If you’re a tenant looking to rent with a pet, it can be difficult to find suitable properties.
In fact, research estimates that only 7% of rental properties in the UK are advertised as ‘pet-friendly’.
In this guide, we’ll outline what the rules are for tenants and landlords when it comes to pets, and explain how legislation could be set to change through the Dogs and Domestic Animals Accommodation Protection Bill.
We’ll also reveal some great tips if you’re looking to rent a property with your pet.
Is it legal for landlords to refuse pets?
There are no cast-iron laws when it comes to renting properties with pets.
And as such, landlords can refuse a tenant’s request to keep a pet if they have a valid reason to do so.
Those valid reasons include:
- The landlord believes your pet is too large for their property
- The landlord, or other tenants, have allergies
- The landlord has concerns over potential noise
Do landlords have to accept tenants with pets?
Landlords aren’t obligated to accept tenants wishing to rent with a pet.
But they must provide a valid reason for declining the request.
Landlords are also obligated to allow a tenant to keep a guide dog or assistance dog if they require one due to a disability, unless they have a good enough reason to decline this – for example on health and safety grounds.
What are the rules on renting with pets in the UK?
The current rules on renting with pets ultimately fall on the landlord if they have a valid reason for declining a tenant’s pet request.
However, the government has taken steps to make renting with a pet easier for tenants in the UK.
The Dogs and Domestic Animals Accommodation Protection Bill
The Dogs and Domestic Animals Accommodation Protection Bill is proposing a series of changes that could mean more tenants are able to rent with pets.
The Bill is still being heard in parliament but could become law in 2022.
Essentially, it aims to make it easier for responsible tenants with well-behaved pets to rent properties, while also allowing landlords to decline requests from tenants who don’t fit these criteria.
1. The model tenancy agreement
As part of the proposals within the Dogs and Domestic Animals Accommodation Protection Bill, the government updated its model tenancy agreement to make consent for pets the default position.
This means landlords using the model tenancy agreement who wish to decline a tenant’s request to keep a pet must provide their reasons for doing so in writing within 28 days.
Because landlords aren’t compelled to use the model tenancy agreement, those who don’t, or who use a letting agent, can still decline pets through their own agreement.
2. Certificates of responsible guardianship
Under the Bill’s proposals, tenants who wish to keep a pet will require a certificate of responsible animal guardianship.
Only registered vets will be able to issue the certificates and both the tenant, and their pet will need to pass a test to be given one.
The vet will check:
- That the pet is microchipped in the case of cats and dogs
- The pet has been de-wormed and de-fleaed
- The pet has had all required vaccinations
- The pet responds to commands from its owner
- Details of the test will be held on a database, while microchipping of dogs and cats will become mandatory for tenants with pets.
3. Pet insurance fees
Since the introduction of the Tenant Fees Act in 2019, landlords and letting agents have been unable to charge additional upfront fees to tenants other than a deposit, holding deposit and advance rent.
The Dogs and Domestic Animals Accommodation Protection Bill, however, could allow landlords to charge tenants a pet insurance fee, which would cover any property damage caused by the pet.
4. No automatic right for tenants
Although the Bill proposes to make securing a pet-friendly tenancy easier for renters, they would not have the automatic right to keep a pet.
But landlords would be unable to decline a request from a tenant with a responsible guardianship certificate unless the pet was classed as a risk to nuisance to others.
5. Exemptions for landlords
Certain landlords would be able to apply for a pet exemption certificate under the Bill’s proposals, if:
They or another tenant have a religious reason for not being able to come into contact with domestic animals
They or another tenant have a medical reason that dictates they must not come into contact with domestic animals
The property is classed as unsuitable for domestic animals
How to rent a house with pets
If you’re looking to rent a property with a pet, there are several steps you can take to give yourself a better chance of your request being accepted by your landlord:
1. Prove your pet has been vaccinated
Providing proof that your pet has been vaccinated could help to put your landlord’s mind at rest.
In the case of a cat or a dog, you should also provide proof of microchipping, de-worming and de-fleaing.
2. Provide references from previous landlords
If you’ve successfully rented a property with your pet before, ask your previous landlord to provide a reference.
3. Offer to cover some of your landlord’s costs
Your landlord is unable to request deposit bigger than five- or six-weeks’ rent (depending on the amount of annual rent) or demand any additional fees to cover themselves if you’re renting with your pet.
However, you could offer to pay a slightly increased rent to cover any costs of a pet insurance policy if your landlord wished to take one out.
4. Introduce your pet to your landlord
One of the best ways to prove that your pet is no problem and you’re a responsible owner is to introduce the animal to your landlord.
If you live nearby, invite your potential landlord over to see how your pet behaves in your current property.
5. Offer to have the property deep-cleaned at the end of your tenancy
As well as potential damage, one of the biggest issues with pets in rental properties is cleanliness.
By offering to have a professional deep clean at the end of your tenancy, your landlord won’t incur any additional costs for cleaning and may be more willing to grant your pet request.
6. Don’t keep a pet without permission
If your tenancy agreement states that pets aren’t allowed, don’t be tempted to keep one anyway.
If you’re in breach of your tenancy agreement, your landlord could have grounds to evict you.
7. Ask for the tenancy agreement to be amended
If your landlord agrees to your request to keep a pet, ask that your tenancy agreement be amended to make this clear